Learn all about the natural predators of elephants. 

Do African elephants have predators?

The mighty African elephant is the largest land mammal. This animal can stand 12 feet tall and weigh around 13,000 pounds. This elephant fact often leaves people wondering, do African elephants have any natural predators? 

Are there animals strong enough to take down an elephant? You will be surprised by all these predatory discoveries that African elephant conservation groups have made throughout the years. 

What is a predator?

The term predator describes an organism that captures and eats other organisms in the animal kingdom. These animals have specific characteristics, like being larger than their prey and killing them immediately after catching. 

Are elephants considered predators?

Although elephants are much larger than other animals, they are not considered predators. These large mammals are herbivores, which means that they eat vegetation. Elephants feed on the grasses, leaves, bark, fruits and shrubs of the savannas and forests. 

Are elephants considered prey?

So if elephants are not predators, they must be prey, right? Wrong! Full-grown elephants are not prey. The term prey describes an animal sought, captured, and eaten by another animal in the animal kingdom. Adult elephants do not fall under this category. 

Do African elephants have any natural predators?

Elephants have a few predators they often worry about: humans, lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. Here is why these predators attack elephants. 


There is a reason why lions are on Africa’s Big Five list. These animals have enough force to lift up to 2,300 pounds and bite with a force of 650 pounds per square inch. With so much strength, lions are one of the natural predators of elephants. However, lions do not attack full-grown elephants. They tend to only go after calves or small female elephants without tusks. 


Another animal that elephants have to look out for is hyenas. These animals might not be the strongest or largest animals in Africa, but they are pretty witty. Their strategy is to attack animals that are bigger than them in packs. Although they do not attack adult elephants, they go after calves and elephants stuck in the mud


Elephants need a lot of water to stay hydrated and keep their bodies cool. You can often find them around a water hole. However, elephants need to be careful because predators live in these waters. Crocodiles often attack calves or smaller elephants when they are drinking water. If a mother elephant sees a crocodile attack their calf, they will stomp them to death


Most of the listed predators above go after small or weak elephants. However, there is one predator that goes after healthy adult elephants, and that is humans.

Elephants are more vulnerable to humans because of ivory and the loss of their habitats. Poachers kill elephants for their tusks used to create ivory that is then traded illegally. 

This action has led to the decrease of elephant populations throughout the years. It is estimated that about 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their ivory. Humans may also kill elephants when it comes to defending their crops and villages.

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